Whirlwind evening, I’m completely exhausted.

We got to the hall about on time, I threw on some clothes, got presented on stage to the audience of competitors and their support teams, found a reed that would play at 442, heard Alex Klein play a moving and stately Poulenc Sonate and played Britten and Lutoslowski to the audience myself I was desperately tired but the nerves kicked in and woke me up thankfully. There is nothing quite like playing to an audience of young oboists that you are about to judge to get your adrenaline flowing. I tried to make the music the thing as always, and be as absorbed in it as I could.

Its so nice they give you flowers here. I was given lots of them after I played, I felt like a singer! I recently threw some from the stage in Bucharest in a brilliant Festival there-just like Simon Rattle did in Japan.

We had a great dinner after the concert with Laszlo Hadady and Alex Klein, fellow judges. Philip Nodel is the Russian Oboist who has done so much to make us welcome here and sorted out many mess ups with visas and plane tickets. He and his wife Varia are so calm and enthusiastic and lovely, they make a great team and its such a relief they are looking after us. Philip is a Professor at the Conservatoire. There is a very young very brilliant team there, led by Alexei Utkin, our other judge. He is one of the greatest Oboists I have ever heard.

First day of first round is tomorrow, I will report what I can.